View from the windows on the north side of Charity Lutheran. Sue B. Balcom photo.
By Pastor Sam Coleman
As I’m writing this newsletter article I am looking outside my office window here at Charity at the new snow we received last night. The Ponderosa pine trees are covered with it, and even the harshness of the needles are softened by the beautiful snow resting on them. It’s amazing that even on these frigid days of winter here in the tundra (Sarah’s not-so-loving reference to North Dakota), there is spectacular beauty surrounding us if we are willing to stop and appreciate it. I think about how often life can be encapsulated by even the simplest moments. There is the beauty of the newly fallen snow mixed with the harshness of -10, -20, or even -30 degrees below 0. This morning at sunrise, the snow became beautiful shades of blue and yellow and was breathtaking, but it took 20 minutes for my car to even become comfortably warm. I have to say that I love the beauty of winter but hate the cold. A life lesson in this is that everything in life has its good and bad. I don’t think there is even the possibility of it all being good or all bad in this life. It’s always a mixture. The real question is in what we choose to focus on in the midst of the good and bad. Often a sad reality is that it is easier to focus on the negative to the detriment of the good. Pastor Terry Sletto mentioned this in a sermon recently as he shared about meeting a woman that was so focused on the cold of winter and possibly the negatives in her life that there was palpable darkness surrounding her. He tried to cheer her, but she wasn’t able to receive the hope he offered. I think we’ve all been there at different times in our life and God knows our propensity to focus on the negative instead of the positive, so he gives us this command in His Word: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and just, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” - Philippians 4:8 This verse is a challenge to each of us to make a choice. We can focus on the things that are true, just, right, and the list goes on, or we can focus on lies, injustice, wrong, and the list goes on with that as well. And our focus not only determines our attitudes and perspective on life but also the effect that we have on the people around us and ultimately for eternity. And this is also a command because as followers of Christ we have the most excellent example of what is true, just, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. We have Jesus. We can have hope in the midst of sadness, pain, death, sin, and all the things gone wrong with us and the world because the winter of this world will end and spring will be sprung when the Son returns in all His warmth, love, justice, and splendor. Choose to focus on that.